MPA Students Provide Deliverables to SF CBOs

Eight teams of MPA students delivered presentations about their semester-long CBO (community-based organization) Support Projects in class on May 2.  Each team was paired with a CBO partner at the beginning of the semester and assigned to work with their CBO Partner to identify a project, develop and refine a scope of work, and deliver a final report, complete with recommendations for implementation, to the CBO Partner (these partners were selected using an on-line portal (http://sfcbosupportproject.org/).  The projects ranged from conducting literature reviews on specific topics related to a particular program, to reviewing performance measurement indicators for a specific field and recommending a set to adopt, to designing, refining, and testing a range of program evaluation tools, to identifying issues thwarting a CBO’s ability to effectively manage and implement their programs.

We invited the CBO Partners to attend tonight’s class and hear the student presentations; six of the eight CBOs were in attendance.  Even though I haven’t read the final reports yet, after hearing the presentations – and more importantly, after hearing the CBO Partners’ reactions to those presentations – I am confident in saying that these student teams will have made substantial contributions in helping these CBOs more successfully manage and measure the outcomes of the programs they deliver.  Below I paraphrase just a few comments the CBO Partners made in response to the findings and recommendations the student teams made:

  • This is exactly the information I need to advance conversations we need to have within our organization, to ensure we are tracking the right outcomes.
  • I was just talking about these issues with my Director earlier today; we’ll implement these recommendations within the month!
  • Our organization has undergone so much transition recently and we are trying to adapt and implement a program here that has been successful overseas.  But we had no model and limited capacity for doing that.  These recommendations will help greatly as we move forward.
  • I submitted a letter of intent to a funder earlier today.  If we get invited to submit a full proposal, I’ll be able to use the findings from this report in that proposal.

In short, these student teams did an effective job at creating quality, evidence-based final reports that include recommendations (including some words of caution about potential pitfalls) for their CBO Partners that are feasible for these organizations to implement almost immediately.  This is no small feat!  But, in looking over at the MPA’s new draft mission statement (on this blog), it seems to be in line what we are aiming to achieve.

Many thanks to Amy Farah Weiss for the vision and support, as well as to SF State’s Institute for Civic and Community Engagement, which provided some grant funding to develop the community service learning component of this course.

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